Asking For Forgiveness

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A querist asks, “Does God forgive people who do not ask? I have never seen where that happened. Should I forgive anyone who doesn’t ask?”

The Bible teaches that repentance has always been a prerequisite for forgiveness being granted by God (Psalm 51; Jonah 3:10; Acts 2:38; Acts 3:19; Acts 8:22; Acts 17:30; 2 Timothy 2:25; 1 John 1:9. Our Lord gives us the criteria for forgiving others who sin against us in Luke 17:3-4, “Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent, thou shalt forgive him.” We can certainly see clearly that asking for forgiveness coupled with repentance is necessary for forgiveness.

In Matthew 18:15-22, the Lord gives us instructions on how to deal with a brother who trespasses against us. In Matthew 18:21-22, Peter asked, “Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but Until seventy times seven.”

The number, “seven,” was the most sacred number to the Hebrews, symbolizing God’s completion and perfection. In other words, as often as our brother repents and asks our forgiveness, we are to forgive our brother. The duty of forgiveness has no limit, save in the want of penitence in the offender. We should also remember that in no instance should a Christian harbor malice or retain resentment toward a sincere penitent offender (Colossians 3:13). We should have the loving attitude of our heavenly Father in this regard; when He forgives, He forgets (Hebrews 8:12; Hebrews 10:17; cf. Jeremiah 31:31-34).

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12 Responses to “Asking For Forgiveness”

  1. Kelley Benson says:

    What kind of advice would you say to someone who has had someone sin against them but hasn’t repented? Should they forgive them anyways? And if not, what kind of reaction should they have? Thanks

  2. Herb Campbell says:

    My gosh! I just discovered this site and it looks like Kelley Benson never received an answer to the question asked on Jan 8, 2009.
    Yes, absolutely we must forgive someone who sins against us whether they repent or not. If we claim to follow Christ Jesus we cannot do anything else. God did not wait for us to repent before sending His Son to die for our sins. Scripture tells us that God did that when we were still unrepentant sinners.

    Herb

  3. Joe says:

    Is there really any forgiveness for a man who has taken life in the name of country and duty? While many will say you are pardoned because you did this act in service to your nation, I certainly don’t feel it. I can not forgive myself, so how can I expect to be forgiven in the end.

    It’s an ugly horrible weight that is a never ending nightmare of dread, always on the fringe of awareness. I have not stepped back into church in 39 years since. There is no free pass, and no return to the person I was the 20 years before it.

    Maybe you should ignore this, as I am simply having a bad day.

    • Unknown says:

      Joe. Feelings merely reflect what you believe in.

      If you don’t believe – you will never feel like it.

      You cannot feel your way into believing.

      You accept what God says is true.
      And later you will feel accordingly.

      Our feelings will reflect reality, only if we believe the reality. Which is God’s word.

      If God says it’s true – it’s true.

      God says:
      If you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God,
      who died instead of you – YOU H A V E ETERNAL LIFE.

      You may think you don’t deserve to be forgiven.
      Then you of all the people should start to realise
      How Much God loves you and what God’s love really is.

      I recommend reading “Victory Over The Darkness” by
      Neil T. Anderson.

      “You’ll know the truth and the truth will set you free.”

  4. Forgiveness is a transaction that occurs in the mind of God when the conditions for forgiveness are met. It is not based on feelings or forgiveness of self. It occurs when the blood of Christ is applied. For the non-Christian it occurs when the penitent believer is baptized for the remission of sins. For the Christian it occurs when repentance and confession to God occurs.

    Saying that you’re not forgiven because you don’t FEEL forgiven reveals that you’re not judging the situation by Bible standards.

  5. Lady says:

    Joe, throughout the Bible great men of God had to fight and take others lives in the name of country and duty. War is never pleasant and not easy to deal with. There is a difference between “thou shalt not kill” and what it means “thou shalt not murder” and what you did to defend our nation. Ecclesiastes talks about there is a time for every season even war. That season has past for you. Live today fully and put the past behind you. You miss today by looking in your rear view mirror. Repent if you need to repent and do something for those in need: the homeless, donate food and clothing, donate books you don’t read, etc. Do something to help someone else live today.

  6. nab says:

    Joe,

    the same God who said “thou shall not Kill” is the God who allowed killing in wars throughout the old testament. Now aside from that, even if you have a hard time forgiving yourself, and you think that what you did during a war defending your country is a sin that is not forgivable you must believe that God forgives all trespasses. but don’t take my or anyone else’ word. but believe in Jesus’ word in

    Mark 3:22–30

    22 And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Beelzebuba! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons.”

    23 So Jesus called them and spoke to them in parables: “How can Satan drive out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. 26 And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come. 27 In fact, no one can enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man. Then he can rob his house. 28 I tell you the truth, all the sins and blasphemies of men will be forgiven them. 29 But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin.”

    30 He said this because they were saying, “He has an evil spirit.”

    The same is referenced in Math 12:22-32

    And,

    COLOSSIANS 3:13 NKJ
    13 bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.

    God not only forgave you, but gave you His life and love on the inside. So, He expects you to act like Him — and forgive. God forgave you; now you must forgive yourself, and others — even when they have done wrong.

    And,
    PSALM 85:2 NKJ
    2 You have forgiven the iniquity of Your people; You have covered all their sin. Selah

    PSALM 103:3 NKJ
    3 Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases,

    ACTS 13:38-39 NKJ
    38 “Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins;
    39 “and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses.

    ISAIAH 43:25 NKJ
    25 “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; and I will not remember your sins.

    HEBREWS 8:12 NKJ
    12 “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”

    I can go on and on with examples from HIS word. But I think you would be better off if you looked them up yourself. You can Google “forgiveness”, “All sins are Forgiven”, “the unforgiven sin”, etc. Please do it for your peace of mind.

    God loves you, He sacrificed His only Begotten Son For you.

  7. Emanuel says:

    Is there any way for receiving forgiveness from the church?
    Long before I commited a sin and lied to the church. From that time I repent, repent and repent but…there hasn’t been anforgivness.
    Now, the more I try the more accusations are added to my commited sin which are not true.
    I am really helpless. I love the lord and the church but as it seems there is no way to repent and return.
    I should appreciate any advice that can help to get out of this relation and have a new start.

  8. ChildofTheKing says:

    When we feel we must do more to receive forgiveness or that we could never have forgiveness for something that we have done that is soooo bad, it is like a slap in the face of Jesus, we are saying that what Jesus did was not enough. He gave His one and ONLY son!! For you, it WAS enough, receive your forgiveness…… There is nothing you can do to earn it.
    As for Emanuel, The Word of God says HE is our redeemer.It may not be in our timing but you will be redeemed. Think of Paul or Jesus for that matter. You are the righteousness of Christ, only to Him are you ultimatly responsible, if you have asked for forgiveness, receive it!! Pray for your enemies. Do good to those who hate you, now this is Christ like living!! God bless you!!

  9. Nicole says:

    I was wondering where in the Bible does it say we as Christians need to ask others for forgiveness? I have a friend who is Jewish and he thinks Christians just ask God for forgiveness and don’t have to ask the person whom they wronged for forgiveness and I want to explain to him that that is incorrect. I’m not very good at explaining this stuff and would like some help if possible! Thanks so much:)

  10. Jon says:

    Nicole, we must forgive each other if we expect God to forgive us. Remember the parable of the unforgiving servant in Matthew 18:21-35.

    For a more direct command, see Colossians 3:13 – “forgiving one another… even as Christ forgave you, so also you must do.”

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